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Drug Dealer Crash Victim Wins Compensation Battle

Published: 04 June 2014, in categories: Personal Injury Updates | Legal Updates | News and Updates

In a ground-breaking decision which underlined the supremacy of European law, the Department of Transport (DoT) has been ordered to pay substantial compensation to a drug dealer who was severely injured in a road accident.

The High Court found that the DoT had breached its duty to accurately transcribe EU Directives concerning compensation of victims of uninsured drivers into domestic law.

The man suffered life-threatening injuries which would have a devastating impact on the rest of his life when a car in which he was a passenger crashed in 2006. Whilst he was being cut from the wreckage, a fire officer noticed a large block of herbal cannabis falling out of his jacket. The driver of the car was subsequently jailed for dangerous driving and possessing cannabis. His motor insurers avoided his policy on grounds of false representations and material non-disclosure.

The man’s legal team pursued a damages claim against motor insurers nominated by the Motor Insurers Bureau, the body that compensates victims of uninsured motorists. That claim was dismissed on the basis that he knew or ought to have known that the vehicle was being used in the course of or furtherance of crime within the meaning of the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement 1999 (the UDA).

His lawyers pursued an alternative claim against the DoT, arguing that the terms of the ‘crime exception’ contained within the UDA conflicted with relevant EU Directives and that the DoT had therefore failed in its obligation to ensure uniformity between UK legislation and the Directives.

In upholding the man’s claim and holding the DoT liable to compensate him, the Court found ‘with little hesitation’ that the ‘serious’ failure to accurately implement the terms of the Directives was neither inadvertent nor excusable and had shut the door on a cause of action which would otherwise have been available.

The Court concluded, "Many readers may be wondering how it comes about that a drug dealer is entitled to compensation against Her Majesty's Government in circumstances where he was injured during the course of a criminal joint enterprise. The understandable reaction might be: there must be some rule of public policy, reflecting public revulsion, which bars such a claim. The short answer is that there is not."

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